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Paris , France

Born 14th of November 1922 - Died 26th of August 2020

Aged: 97

Douglas MacDiarmid Death Notice / Obituary originally published on 28th August 2020 : The New Zealand Herald

Douglas Kerr MacDiarmid (14 November 1922 – August 26, 2020) was a New Zealand expatriate painter, known for his diversity and exceptional use of colour, and involved with key movements in twentieth-century art. He lived in Paris, France.


Douglas MacDiarmid was born in Taihape, in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand, the younger son of Dr. Gordon Napier MacDiarmid,country general medical practitioner and surgeon (and former army surgeon on SS Maheno), and his wife Mary Frances (née Tolme), a school teacher before her marriage. He was born in his family home upstairs from his father's surgery at 24 Huia Street, Taihape.

He boarded at Huntley Preparatory School, Marton, and Timaru Boys' High School, then studied literature, languages, music and philosophy at Canterbury College, University of New ZealandChristchurch. His studies were interrupted by World War II military service in the Army and Air Force at home. Although he had no formal art training, he was mentored by older members of The Group, an avant-garde set redefining New Zealand art and culture that he was closely involved with during his Christchurch years from 1940 to 1946.

While his brother Ronald Diarmid MacDiarmid (2 August 1920 – 13 January 2013; QSM, MB ChB UNZ, MRCGP, FRCGP, FRACGP (Hon), FRNZCGP) followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a doctor, Douglas left New Zealand after the war in 1946 to find his way as an artist, teaching and painting in London and France. After a year back in New Zealand in 1949–50, he returned to France and has been based there ever since – with homeland exhibitions and regular trips back to New Zealand until recent years.

Douglas was a cousin of the New Zealand scientist Alan MacDiarmid, one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000. The following year, Douglas painted a portrait of his cousin for the New Zealand Portrait Gallery collection.

His childhood home is now a bed and breakfast called Magpie Manor at 24 Huia Street, Taihape.


MacDiarmid a full time artist in Paris from 1952 on. He also wrote poetry. Not confined to a style, he created landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, figures, abstract and semi abstract forms, many inspired by his extensive travels, and exhibited successfully in France, London, Athens, New York, and Casablanca.

In 1990, he was brought back to New Zealand for the country's sesquicentennial celebrations, and declared a New Zealand living cultural treasure by the government of the day. His portrait was painted by Jacqueline Fahey at the time for the new New Zealand Portrait Gallery.

MacDiarmid painted the portraits of Rita Angus and Theo Schoon among others.

His paintings are owned by French and New Zealand governments, the City of Paris, and public and private collections across the world, including New Zealand, Australia, the United States, France, England, Greece, Switzerland, Morocco, South Africa, China, South America, Korea, and Tahiti, as well as the collection of the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

In 2016, two of his paintings sold through Art+Object for a record price (for the artist) of more than $27,000 each as part of the Tim and Sherrah Francis Collection, the highest grossing art auction in New Zealand history.[7]

A series of Douglas' line drawings were used to illustrate a little volume of poems by New Zealand Poet Laureate 2015–2017 CK Stead. Published by the Alexander Turnbull Library, the signed, limited edition book was titled In the mirror, and dancing (2017) and hand-pressed by Brendan O'Brien The book was launched on 8 August 2017 in Wellington, with the assistance of Gregory O'Brien to celebrate the conclusion of Stead's laureateship.

Senior art historian Associate Professor Leonard Bell, of the School of Humanities at the University of Auckland, noted MacDiarmid's name missing in overviews of the history of painting in New Zealand and has welcomed the launch of his biography Colours of a Life - the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid by Anna Cahill (2018).

Douglas MacDiarmid Death Notice Source

Obituary originally published: The New Zealand Herald on 29th of August 2020

This HonourThem publication is not serving as the official obituary announcement by the family. HonourThem learned about the death of Douglas MACDIARMID through obituary notice publications on: The New Zealand Herald on 28th August 2020. HonourThem quotes the words of Douglas MACDIARMID death notice/obituary directly. Find Grief Support. See: A Guide to Funeral Etiquette.

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